Sunday 23 November 2008

Hasegawa's Hayabusa ~ Supplementary

As requested here is  a view of the Aeromaster decal sheet and instructions included with the 1994 issue kit of their Hayabusa. Of interest is the 20th Sentai example with dark blue uppersurfaces. The use of this colour, the subject of much debate, has now been confirmed by veterans from that unit. It was applied to a few aircraft engaged in long haul sea search and convoy escort duties in the Phillipine Islands. Aeromaster's instructions suggest a match of FS 35050 for the Dark Blue. I'm not sure about that but I have added it to the scan of the instruction sheet just for interest.

Image credit: © Hasegawa Seisakusho Co Ltd & Aeromaster Decals 1994

Saturday 22 November 2008

Hasegawa's Hayabusa ~ Part One

First announced in their 1978 kit catalogue with a well known photograph of a Ki-43-II Kai, Hasegawa's 1/72nd scale Hayabusa kit was not issued until 1982. Kit # B17 in the "blue flash" box was molded in dark green plastic with optional decals for a 50th Sentai aircraft flown by controversial JAAF ace Sgt Satoshi Anabuki in 1943 and an anonymous 64th Sentai machine flown by the 1st Chutai leader in 1944. Surprisingly the kit featured raised panel detail, whereas earlier Hasegawa kits such as the Ki-44 and Ki-61 had engraved detail. The kit offered alternative parts for what were then known as Ki-43-IIa early and late versions and a Ki-43-IIb. Attractive box art by a nascent Shigeo Koike featured Anabuki's Hayabusa climbing steeply over a B-25 gunship. 

In 1987 the kit was re-issued in a larger, deeper box as # 501. The original Koike box art was re-formatted and cropped to display a larger image of the Ki-43. The kit was still molded in dark green plastic but the decal options were changed and a new style instruction sheet included. The 64th Sentai option had been deleted and instead, in addition to Anabuki's machine, the markings for the Hayabusa of 59th Sentai ace Sgt Major Hirohata were provided. These included his distinct black 'bird of prey' fuselage marking.

In 1992 the second re-issue of the kit retained the Koike artwork in cropped format but was now numbered as AT1 (02501). The design and colours of the box labeling were revised and included a colour photograph of the made up model on the side of the box. The kit was now molded in light grey plastic with the same markings options as for # 501.

In 1994 a special edition of the kit with Aeromaster decals was issued as SP130 (51630). The box design was the same as AT1 but had a black "flash" added in the top right corner on the front of the box advertising the inclusion of the Aeromaster decals. The additional Aeromaster decal sheet was contained inside a ziplock bag with its own instruction sheet and provided optional markings for 4 aircraft:-

'White 15' of the 25th Sentai Hombu (HQ Shotai)
'Red 725' of 2nd Rensei-Hikotai
11th Sentai Commander
20th Sentai, 1st Chutai

The first option was incorrect in depicting a blue tail stripe for the 25th's Sentai Hombu. Aircraft # 15 was actually flown by Sgt Major Koshiro Otake of the 2nd Chutai and the tail stripe should have been red, a mistake that would be corrected in a subsequent special edition of the kit (q.v.). 

This kit included the standard Hasegawa instruction sheet and decal sheet from the previous issue.

In 1999 the kit enjoyed its fifth re-issue in a new white box, still with the original Koike box art, although this had again been re-formatted, and now numbered as A1 (00131). Markings options were unchanged from AT1. This version of the kit appears to be still in production and generally available.

In addition to these "standard" issues, Hasegawa have also released the kit in limited editions with different box art. We'll look at those special issues in Part Two.

If anyone knows of any other issues featuring this box art (not the limited editions with different box art) please let me know by sending an email or making a comment, thanks.

Images credit: Hasegawa Seisakusho Co Ltd., © 1982, 1987, 1992, 1994 & 1999.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Zeke, Hamp & Hemp ~ Part 2

Here are the colour swatches for BS 481 # 389 Camouflage Beige aka "RAF Hemp" together with the closest standard Munsell and RAL values.

With grateful appreciation to Ken Glass for assisting with the Munsell fractional values.

Image credits: Rendered colour chips © Straggler 2008; RAF Nimrod images web

Sunday 16 November 2008

Zeke, Hamp and Hemp

It may seem odd to examine the colour of modern RAF aircraft on a blogsite about Japanese aviation but please bear with me!

The RAF camouflage popularly known as 'Hemp', now officially 'Camouflage Beige' BSI 381c # 389, was developed from a compromise for a suitable camouflage to protect aircraft on the ground in dispersals and in the air. The original choice for a low reflectivity scheme was a brown, like Dark Earth, but eventually the colour chosen as most suitable was matched to the Munsell value 5 Y 6/2 from the BS 4800 'Specification for Paint Colours for Building Purposes'. The approximate Munsell value from this colour standard is 4.8 Y 6.0/1.8.  This should be of some interest to us as 5 Y 6/2 is the same Munsell value which has been cited for the extant paint colour on some Mitsubishi Zero artifacts.

Many enthusiasts will be familiar with the actual appearance of 'Hemp' on the RAF's Nimrod and Canberra, and the way the colour can appear differently depending on the lighting conditions. Sometimes more yellow, sometimes more grey, sometimes more green. In fact these aircraft provided a useful "living" demonstration of the Japanese Zero colours and many photographic images showing their subtle changes in reflected appearance may be found on the net. Usefully a number of hobby paint ranges offer 'RAF Hemp' and modellers may like to experiment with them on a Zero model.

As the colour was originally chosen from a commercial paint standard the various proprietory names for the paints are illuminating:-

'French Grey'
'Fawn Grey'
'Trout Grey'
'Cotswold Tile'

The closest RAL colour match to Munsell 5 Y 6/2 is 7034 Gelbgrau (Yellow Grey) at 3.09. The closest FS 595b match is 33303 at 3.26, but it is too brown. (less than 2.0 = a close match).

Image credits: Internet pics

Sunday 9 November 2008

On His Hobby

One of the curiously disconcerting things about the communication of information via the internet is the astonishing diversity of the approach to "accuracy". To some it is a driving imperative they agonise over and to others a slightly disagreeable nuisance, to be avoided if at all possible. In between are many shades of grey.

Those who scorn accuracy often astonish further by participating in online discussions about colour with a vehemence that borders on fanaticism. There is the odd article, both online and in magazines, where the model builder who has decided to "plough his own furrow", instead of doing just that, rails against those who prefer accuracy and those who provide information to that end, usually using that time-honoured phrase "No-one really knows". The bit they usually omit to add to this is "but I'm going to give you the benefit of my opinion and it must be worth something (even though no-one really knows) " 

Having spent many hours researching a particular subject from primary source records in the National Archives it astonishes me that, when sharing the fruits of that research, there are those who would rather scorn it and rely instead upon their earnestly held opinion, preference or prejudice. Nothing wrong with that of course, each to his own. But when they enter into public debate from that viewpoint and, perhaps more worryingly, attempt to pass of their opinion, preferences or prejudices as something based on more than a wet finger held aloft, some real confusion can result. 

"Ah, but . . . " they write, "specifications were only for guidance. We all know that in practice they were ignored and anything went." Do we?  But even if we did should we embrace a kind of modelling anarchy of anything goes? Unfortunately the same proponents of this "crew-chief with a tin of any old paint" philosophy,  are often the same ones who jump in with both feet when the debate has very little to go on, and weave the most miraculous arguments based on everything from the radiated luminance of thousands of digital pixels on a much scanned "colour" photograph to the "educated guess" based on a pre-conceived determination, usually where the few facts that are known are assembled together to fit the conclusion in a dubious concoction, rather than t'other way around. Is it really that bad to write "I don't know" and actually, if you don't know, to refrain from posting what amounts to an opinion at all? Apparently it is.

Sometimes the online fire-fight abates and is replaced by the rapid but silent drumming of the email jungle telegraph as allies are sought and "facts" checked. There is one particular character type who never responds to an online statement about aircraft colours, but immediately alerts the members of his clique to its appearance and checks in with his tame guru so that the opinion, preference and prejudice in that tiny, mean pea-brain may be re-assured and reinforced, usually resulting in an oblique post by one of his messengers on another forum. 

I think the problem is that for all the ignorance about certain things, the colour of Grooster Gnu interiors for example, there are those who like to think they "own" certain aircraft types. They are enthusiasts for the Gnu, have every book about it, examine closely every black & white photograph of the type, pontificate long and loudly at the modelling club about their latest miniature creation of the Gnu Mark 18, that field-modified one with the non-standard gun turret and the dampened exhausts. So, when a question about the Gnu comes along for which there is no known answer, they feel that they ought to know and that, being Gnu experts their opinion is worth something more than that wet finger held aloft. It is at these darkest before dawn moments that the much-maligned specifications may be dusted off and trailed out, no longer a matter of scorn, but used to prop up a questionably relevant hypothesis that really boils down to a distillation of personal opinion, preference or prejudice.

But the greatest consternation is reserved for those occasions when someone has the audacity to cite evidence that flies in the face of said opinion, preference or prejudice. It seems that the most vigorous challenge has to be raised against that evidence rather than against the more tenuous opinion, preference or prejudice. Then out comes the old "specifications are for guidance only" bollocks and the shaky appearance of that tiny colour "photograph".  Much hot keystrokes and much ado about nothing usually, but you can guarantee that the mere mention of a particular hot topic, Grooster Gnu interior colours for example, will attract a lengthy thread from the "usual suspects", often including myself - even though I know I shouldn't! 

After its long dormancy I hope to add something meaningful to my SEAC blog to get it going. The subject of SEAC colours and markings is obscure and there are lots of interesting things to explore. The colour of Grooster Gnu interiors will not be one of them.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Airfix Dinah Reprise

As requested, here are images of the decal sheets included in the second and third re-issues of the Airfix 1965 veteran. If anyone does know the exact year the second re-issue appeared please let me know, thanks. One thing to watch out for with the third re-issue is that the Hinomaru borders are more often than not out of register! Note the inclusion of trestle markings, prop blade markings and instrument panel with this sheet. The tiger is also a better likeness to the originals.

One of the things I like about this kit, in addition to the fine shape and simplicity, is the fact that the fuselage halves are molded in one piece. Both the LS and Hasegawa kits have separate nose halves and a separate upper fuselage, clear in the case of the latter, that require careful assembly and filling, risking the destruction of some of that very fine detail.

To round off, a trio of images of a veteran Airfix Ki-46, completed in 1975 by Ken Glass, demonstrating just what an attractive model she makes. Ken used the 19th Hiko-Dan tail markings from the LS kit to complete this model.

Images Credit: Decal sheets © Airfix (Hornby Hobbies Ltd); Ki-46 Model Photos © Ken Glass 2008

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Tales of Tigers & Tri-Colour Camouflage ~ Part 2

Here is the photograph of an 18th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (DHC - Independent Flying or Flight Squadron) Ki-46 believed to be the basis for the LS box art (and numerous profiles). On the original print the dark patch of camouflage on the tail appears to have thin borders of a lighter colour. Note also the size of the tiger on this aircraft and compare it with the size of the tiger as painted on the uncamouflaged Ki-46.

The original "Chinese-style" tiger painted on the fuselage of a Ki-15 just forward of the senchi-hiyoshiki or so-called "combat stripe" is also shown, together with the tiger "running in the skies" design subsequently painted on the tail of a camouflaged Ki-15.

The final image shows the Airfix "Esso" tiger; splendid but not very much like the originals! Compare and contrast it with the photographic images of the tigers.

Image credits: © Bunrin-do FAOW # 64 1975; FAOW # 38 1983 & Airfix (Hornby Hobbies Ltd) 1965

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Tales of Tigers & Tri-Colour Camouflage ~ Part 1

When LS issued their Ki-46-II in the 1960's (if anyone knows the exact year please comment, thanks) the box art represented an interesting tri-coloured aircraft of the 18th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (DHC - Independent Flying or Flight Squadron) in China. This was the same unit, but not the same colour scheme, chosen by Airfix for their own Dinah released in 1965.

The Ki-46-II was released as the first in a 'family' of four Ki-46 variants by LS followed by the Ki-46-III, Ki-46-III interceptor and Ki-46 trainer, all using a number of common sprues which meant inevitable compromise over details.  

This particular scheme, based on a single photograph, has been variously interpreted in profile art and even attributed to a post-war Red Army of China Air Force example. Of course it is impossible to determine exactly which colours were applied to the original aircraft from a monochrome photograph (although some profess to possess the dark art necessary to do this), but it is a curious and interesting fact that the LS box artist managed to accurately represent three of the colours subsequently identified in the JAAF paint colour standards in use until February 1945. These three colours have long been associated with the so-called "China Tri-colour" scheme, although their combinations and shades are diversely depicted. The yellowish brown colour was probably # 33 Kaki iro, confusingly not related to khaki but to the persimmon, a yellowish to orange brown colour. The strong reddish brown of # 4 Seki Kasshoku is sometimes misleadingly described as 'tea colour'. 

The painting and decal instructions in the original kit were poor and did not provide much in the way of details about the scheme. In addition to the 18th DHC tiger option, the tail markings for the 19th Hiko Dan (Flying Brigade) were also included. The tiger, although perhaps appearing odd, was closer to the original than the more stylised and dramatic Airfix rendering.

(Note: This article was updated on 11 March 2015 with more correctly rendered and described colour chips).

Images credit: Box art & decal sheet © LS circa 1960; Rendered colour chips © Straggler 2008

Monday 3 November 2008

Japanese Aircraft of Army Training Units ~ Rising Decals RD72023

Another surprise issue from Rising is a set of 1/72nd scale decals for Japanese Army training aircraft. This includes markings for the Ki-27 'Nate' (Type 97 Fighter ~ 97 Shiki Sentoh-ki or 97-sen), the Ki-79 (Manshu built adaptation of the Ki-27 as a dedicated trainer) and the Ki-55 (Type 99 Advanced Trainer ~ 99 Shiki Kohtoh Renshuh-ki or 99 Koh-ren).

There is a selection of unit markings and one set of Hinomaru for each aircraft type. Particularly welcome are the complex markings for two different Ki-27 aircraft of the 101st Kyoiku Hiko Rentai, a Ki-27 of the 117th Kyoiku Hikotai based in Java and two Ki-79 Ko of the 17th Rensei Hikotai and 44th Kyoiku Hikotai based at Singapore, the latter with the unit tail marking superimposed on the marking of a previous unit. There is also an interesting all-yellow Ki-55 from the Niigata Army Flying School which does not have the black or dark brown cowling and undercarriage fairings usually associated with this type. This aircraft sports the civil registration 'J' on the tail. 

The Ki-27 is available as the veteran Hasegawa (ex-Mania kit), or more recently from RS Models (at first as a mixed media with vacform canopy - now available with injection molded canopy but quite an expensive option) and ICM, the latter kit being superb. Note: Rising have advised that the decals were designed for the Hasegawa kit as the wing and tail profiles of the RS Models kit are different - therefore decals may not fit the RS Models Ki-27. The Ki-79 is also available from RS Models. I have always been puzzled that Hasegawa never adapted their Ki-27 to provide for this version as a separate mainstream kit. It wouldn't take much and it is such a charismatic type. The Ki-55 is available from Fujimi and is another excellent kit.

Painting instructions are very clear with references cited and it good to see Rising depict the correct yellow rather than the hideous and incorrect red-orange beloved of some modellers.

All in all a most welcome opportunity to complete Japanese Army trainers in unusual schemes and highly recommended.

Image credit: © Rising Decals 2008

Sunday 2 November 2008

"Dinah with the Finah Linah"

When the Airfix Ki-46 first appeared in 1965 it seemed an exotic choice for this most British of model makers. The Airfix Aichi D3A1 'Val' had been released the year before, in 1964, so perhaps the Nakajima B5N 'Kate' might have been a more expected stablemate. However, 'Dinah' had attracted the attention and admiration of the wartime RAF and a rare surviving example existed in England. A little surprising then that Airfix chose to represent the Ki-46-II rather than the even more streamlined Ki-46-III survivor.

The kit was cleanly molded in light grey plastic and captured the overall shape and lines of the original very well indeed. Markings for a single option, from the unidentified (by Airfix) 18th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (DHC - Independent Flying or Flight Squadron), were included. The Hinomaru were in the usual bright and unsaturated Airfix printers vermilion and the "Tiger on the Tail" bore more than a passing resemblance to the leaping tiger depicted in the then current Esso Petrol advertising"Put a Tiger in Your Tank". Painting instructions called for overall Matt Light Grey with red spinners and the memorable box art depicted an almost off-white Dinah attempting to take off from  a smoke-palled tropical airfield under attack by Corsairs.

This box art was duplicated, albeit in a truncated version, by the Airfix 'Craft Master' version of the kit marketed in the USA by MPC. This version was molded in a rather brittle silver plastic.

Problems with the kit, disregarding the raised surface detail, are the poorly shaped spinners, crude "flanged" cowling flaps and stalky, simplistic undercarriage. There were no separate engines and the "engine" detail molded within the cowlings is crude. Unusually for the time a basic interior was  featured which included an instrument panel, control column, bulkheads and seats. Cameras were molded to the underside of the cockpit floor and could be viewed through transparencies. All very commendable for the time. The Airfix kit may be further improved by using the Aeroclub/Airwaves photo-etch detail set specifically designed for it and available from Hannants.

The LS (now Arii) series of Ki-46 kits (of which more anon) was also issued in the mid-1960's but I am not sure whether it was before or after the Airfix kit. I don't recall seeing them until much later and the earliest boxing I have displays the "Japan Safety Toy" mark which I think was introduced in the late sixties (?). In addition to the Ki-46-II and Ki-46-III early production, LS issued a kit of the Ki-46-III Otsu interceptor and the Ki-46-II Kai trainer. Some compromise in details resulted from the use of common parts to all the kits. The LS series are beautiful kits, with fine engraved detail. The representation of the fabric covered control surfaces is superb if exaggerated. Some have suggested that these kits are slightly under-scale, being to the 1/75th scale of earlier LS offerings, but in fact they match up well to 1/72nd scale plans.

The Airfix kit was re-issued with new box art and "new" flash in 1979 (the box is marked as © 1978) and this time two markings options were offered, for the 76th DHC based in the East Indies in 1943 and the 81st Sentai 2nd Chutai in Malaya during 1942. The box art depicted the 76th DHC Dinah, with a unique anti-glare panel, being pursued by a couple of Wildcats. Painting instructions gave this as overall Light Aircraft Grey (M13 in the original Airfix paints collection) with Brick Red (M1) spinners and Deep Cream (M15) wing leading edge ID strips. The box art showed a pretty decent dark reddish brown for the spinners. Interestingly the 81st Sentai option was given as being Duck Egg Blue (M8) overall, perhaps a fair out of the tin representation of the pale blue-green JAAF paint colour # 1 Hairyokushoku (ash green colour). 

The last re-issue of the Airfix kit, in 1994, displayed box art changed once more to depict a brown aircraft of the 81st Sentai 1st Chutai over Malaya in 1942. An alternative option returned to a tiger-adorned machine of the 18th DHC but this time the tiger was closer to the JAAF originals in appearance.  The unusual brown choice was called out as Humbrol Matt 160 German Camouflage Red Brown with Matt 28 Camouflage Grey undersurfaces, whilst the 18th DHC example was called out as Matt 28 overall. The decal sheet included for the first time an instrument panel decal depicted, also unusually, as red brown! Images of the decal sheets and additional comments are here. This Airfix classic was to be re-issued once more by Hornby in 2013 as covered here

The colours of Dinah have always been a subject of some conjecture and most recently the case has been made, based on the evidence of relics and at least one colour photograph, that they appear to have been factory painted in a similar "olive gray" to the Mitsubishi-built Zero. One of the issues in identifying this colour is that when exposed it often developed a blueish-grey "chalking" which means that contemporaneous descriptions of grey or blue-grey Dinahs may not have been what they seemed. 

Ki-46 # 2414, brought down by Spitfires of 457 Sqn RAAF north of Coomalie on 18th July 1943 was examined two days after its crash by F/O Claude Pender, the Intelligence Officer of No.5 Fighter Sector, and his examination report describes the aircraft as follows:-

"The general appearance of the aircraft was quite new, probably not having flown more than 30 hours. The Dinah was of grey painted metal, the tail assembly and ailerons were covered in grey fabric . . ."

Strike one for Airfix. This does not sound like the grey chalking of exposed "olive-gray" paint. Another Dinah had been brought down by the Spitfires of 54 Sqn near Darwin on the 6th February 1943 and the combat report described the aircraft as being "coloured a greyish blue". Combat reports from the Burma theatre also describe grey, blue-grey, pale green and even "beautiful pale blue" paintwork. A contemporaneous Japanese painting of a 18th DHC Ki-46-II in flight shows a strikingly bluish looking grey similar to FS 36320. As a strategic, high-flying recce twin a blue-grey paint scheme would seem appropriate.

Another issue is that JAAF # 7 paint colour Ohryoku Nana Go Shoku (Yellow Green No.7 Colour), an olive brown shade like British khaki drab, begins to approach the "olive gray" colour in appearance when severely faded and bleached by exposure. Also the JAAF # 30 paint colour Karekusa Iro (Parched or Dried Grass Colour), often applied in a camouflage pattern to the upper surfaces, is somewhat similar to the "olive gray". Therefore it is not absolutely conclusive that the "olive gray" represents an overall factory finish on these aircraft or that it is an identical "olive gray" as found on Zero relics. The effect of the tropical sun and climate on the cellulose based paints of the 1940's should not be underestimated.

For those who wish to retro-build the Airfix kit and follow the original painting instructions the Airfix paints may be matched to the Humbrol range as follows:-

M1 Brick Red to Matt 70 Brick Red
M8 Duck Egg Blue to Matt 90 Beige Green
M13 Light Grey to Matt 64 Light Grey
M15 Deep Cream to Matt 99 Lemon

Not having examined the original Airfix paints the closeness or otherwise of the matches cannot be verified. I will be posting additional information about mixes to represent the pale blue-green Army Hairyokushoku in due course.

Addendum: Since this blog post was written, further information about the Ki-46 "olive grey" factory colour scheme has been posted here.

Images credit: © Airfix (Hornby Hobbies Ltd)

The Emperor's Eyes ~ Rising Decals RD72022

Japanese 1/72nd aircraft modellers have good reason to be grateful to Rising Decals for their continuing policy of producing themed decal sheets with unusual and much needed markings. 'Emperor's Eyes' (RD72022) includes unit markings and tail codes for a selection of both Army and Navy reconnaissance aircraft together with sufficient Hinomaru (Sun's Red Disk) for one of each of four aircraft types, the Army Ki-15 'Babs' (Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aeroplane ~ '97 Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki' or '97 Shi-tei') and the Ki-46 'Dinah' (Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aeroplane ~ '100 Shiki Shireibu Teisatsu-ki', '100 Shiki Shi-tei' or 'Shin Shi-tei'), and the Navy's D4Y1-C 'Judy' and C6N 'Myrt'. As a bonus three pairs of tiger insignia for Ki-15 and Ki-46 aircraft of the 18th Independent Flying Company (Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai) have also been included. This is a lovely set.

The Ki-15 options are particularly attractive and useful for the Hasegawa (ex-Mania) and LS (now Arii) kits still widely available. These include striking early markings for Ki-15-I types of the 2nd and 101st Independent Flying Companies in the form of stylised "birds", together with the "Chinese-style" tiger painted on the fuselage of an 18th Independent Flying Company example in tri-colour camouflage. In addition there is an attractive 8th Sentai option for a camouflaged Ki-15-II (LS/Arii) as flown over Burma.

The options for the Ki-46 are especially appreciated with the availability of kits from LS (now Arii), Airfix and Hasegawa. The Hasegawa kits are becoming hard to find but I hope that Hasegawa and Airfix will re-release their respective Dinahs in due course. I actually prefer the Airfix example to the Hasegawa (shock, horror) as I believe it has more fidelity in overall shape and can be made into a very good looking model.  The worst aspects, if you don't get wound up by raised panel details, are the poorly shaped spinners and the stalky, simplistic undercarriage. Aeroclub/Airwaves have a photo-etched detail set to improve this kit, especially the interior, and with the addition of the new Rising decals a very attractive example may be made. Dinah colours? Watch this space! 

Rising have included a most unusual Ki-46 tail marking, recently documented from photographs and tentatively identified as representing the 6th Air Army, together with more familiar examples from the 8th and 10th Sentai. In addition to the 55th Independent Flying Company, the sheet also has markings for a Ki-46-III 'Bukosho' winner of the 19th Independent Flying Company flown by Captain Masao Ohashi and Lieutenant Jiro Egawa.

The bonus tigers are also very useful. These designs were originally painted on the 18th Independent Flying Company's Ki-46 aircraft by artist Takaki who lived in Hankow at the time and each one was different. The tiger marking was first adopted by Captain Yoshitsugu Aramaki in April 1939 and painted in the Chinese style on the fuselage of the Ki-15. In 1942 a member of the ground personnel Mamoru Tanaka painted an enlarged version of the tiger on the tail of the aircraft as a "tiger running in the skies" and alluding to a Chinese myth where the tiger could roam 1,000 miles in a day and return home. When the original Airfix kit included this marking back in 1965 they seem to have based its design on the then-current Esso petrol advert promoting the jingle "Put a Tiger in Your Tank"!

The Navy options include a Rising Sun flag for the antenna mast of the C6N and the tail code '762-13' is provided as white or yellow alternatives.

The painting instructions are clear, citing available hobby paints but avoiding the controversy or complicated mixes of some recent revisions with a disclaimer that these schemes are reconstructions of the possible appearance only and that for more accurate shades the modeller should check other related references . Photographic and profile references for each example are given. Rising have also included an addendum sheet that points to corrections to the colour schemes on their website. I particularly like the shade of red chosen for the Honomaru, which are deep and well saturated. The white borders are provided as separate backing pieces to aid in correct register.

This set is a top quality, very well printed sheet of decals representing good value and filling a gap for 1/72nd modellers. Highly recommended.

Image credit: © Rising Decals, 2008